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EU says copyright laws make situation different from Australia

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BRUSSELS, Feb 18 (Reuters) - European Union countries arenot facing the same situation as Australia, where Facebookblocked all media content from its platform, because ofnew copyright rules that protect publishers in Europe, thebloc's executive said on Thursday.

A European Commission spokesman declined to comment directlyon the move by media giant Facebook that escalated a disputewith the Australian government over paying for content.

"In the EU, the situation is different," the spokesman saidin a written response to questions.

"The copyright reform – that needs to be transposed intonational law by 7 June 2021 – already starts to bring concreteresults for the European media sector, as proved by the recentannouncement of the agreement found between Google andpublishers in France."

The dispute between Australia and Facebook centres on aplanned Australian law, which would require Facebook andAlphabet Inc’s Google to reach commercial deals to paynews outlets whose links drive traffic to their platforms, oragree a price through arbitration.

Although Australia is a small market, the law is beingclosely watched around the world by regulators, and could be atest case for a bigger global push to force internet giants toshare more of their revenue with content providers.

Under the EU's tougher copyright rules, online platformswill have to sign licensing agreements with musicians,performers, authors, news publishers and journalists to usetheir work.

The European Commission's position is that "press andquality journalism are not for free" so the Copyright Directivecreates the condition for fair bargaining between press editorsand online platforms.(Reporting by John Chalmers, Editing by Timothy Heritage)